there are a few cheap flash alternatives...unfortunately, in this case, they are free for a reason. Swish Max is probably the best alternative I have seen, but I'm not sure whether you can make games on it or if it's just animations...hey i've just found flashdevelop.org...im gonna check it out
4. Extract the Flex SDK to somewhere like "C:\FlexSDK" and install the debuggers.
5. VERY IMPORTANT! Go to "<SDK location>/frameworks/libs/player" and make a new folder called 9.0 (if there isn't already). If there is a folder there already, check that there is the following file: "playerglobal.swc". If not, download it here. Copy "playerglobal.swc" from inside the zip into the new folder ("<SDK location>/frameworks/libs/player/9.0").
6. Open up FlashDevlop. On the toolbar click "tools" --> "program settings". Under AS3 context, under language, there should be a field for the FlexSDK location. This is just where you extracted the SDK zip (eg. "C:\FlexSDK").
7. Make a new AS3 project, write some AS3 code and click on the toolbar: "Project" --> "Test Movie".
8. When your finished click build to generate all the required files.
<Rushes off to learn some AS3>
PS. If you have any problems regarding set-up, just ask me. I am trying to remember these steps from abotu 10 mins ago, but I wasn't taking it all in, so it might be wrong. However, I'm pretty sure I've covered everything.
the anser is: I don't really know! You'll just have to google around and find out what you can do. The answer is that you can probably do anything that you can in Flash CS, but in AS3 code. Not sure what you mean about "outside the IDE though".